Obstruction? Deprivation of honest services?
&nbsp   Inquiring minds want to know

Muscling a prosecutor NOT to prosecute someone is obstruction of justice. How about muscling him TO prosecute someone?

My friend the Former Senior Prosecutor and I were discussing the following question, and couldn’t find a clear answer:

If a politician puts pressure on a prosecutor not to pursue a case, that’s pretty clearly obstruction of justice. But what about the reverse: where a politician puts pressure on a prosecutor to pursue a non-case, or to indict by some arbitrary date?

The text of the federal obstruction of justice statute seems to cover both possibilities:

Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede any grand or petit juror, or officer in or of any court of the United States, or officer who may be serving at any examination or other proceeding before any United States magistrate judge or other committing magistrate, in the discharge of his duty, or injures any such grand or petit juror in his person or property on account of any verdict or indictment assented to by him, or on account of his being or having been such juror, or injures any such officer, magistrate judge, or other committing magistrate in his person or property on account of the performance of his official duties, or corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).

but neither of us could think of a case where pressure for malicious prosecution, rather than pressure to dump a case, had been the basis of an indictment.

Is getting someone fired from his job “injuring” him in his “person or property”?

My friend suggested that it might be prosecuted as “honest services” wire fraud: the use of interstate communications to defraud the public of the honest services of the prosecutor in question.

Any thoughts? Better yet, any precedents?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com